Ohio Wesleyan University continues to offer unrivaled opportunities as being one of three schools in Ohio that bring together students and alumni for its biannual cast iron pour.
The cast iron event is the result of weeks of preparation and camaraderie between current OWU students, alumni and experienced metal-smiths.
OWU sculpture professor Jon Quick heads the iron pour and has been working on it’s development since its inception.
“The process is fascinating, there’s always more information you can learn about it and there’s a lot you can get from other schools when you go to different places and conferences. The body of information is just so immense, it’s always an adventure,” Quick said.
For both sculpture and 3D classes, the better part of a semester is spent preparing for the pour. Students are taught the process of mold making whether it be with sand or ceramic shell.
The process of making a mold requires an object or form to occupy a space in the mold before it’s coated in sand or ceramic shell. In the case of sand molds, once the sand hardens it’s split in two and the form in the middle is taken out leaving a negative space in the shape of the object.
The mold is put back together before cast iron is poured into the top, and after a short drying period, broken into two again to reveal the iron casting in the center.
The students that created molds are involved in every aspect of the process so as to experience creating your piece from start to finish.
The body of work casted at the pour not only includes the work of students, but the work of graduates and professors as well.
After a six hour preparation period, the fuel and iron is added to the top of the furnace to begin the heating process. Once the furnace is up to temperature, pieces of iron and additional fuel are gradually added through the top. As the iron melts, it collects around a tap at the bottom of the furnace. When enough iron is melted, the tap is opened and the molten iron flows into a ladle to be poured into molds.
Westin Short, a 2019 OWU alum has joined the group of graduates who venture back to Haycock Hall to take part in the time honored tradition. As a part of the pour crew, Short handles the iron directly and is tasked with filling the molds.
“You get to control the iron, you are the one making the art. The artists themselves make the molds and create the form, but the one who pours the mold is actually the one who puts in the substance and creates the art itself, we put the actual being in the body of it,” Short said.
The culmination of time and effort put into each individual piece of art as well as the prep for this semester’s iron pour can be described perfectly as a well choreographed team-effort.
Junior sculpture student Mo Meehan says,“ It’s really cool that we’re using a scrap material, it’s a relatively low cost to the students but it’s cool foundry experience. It’s pretty unique and not found at most other institutions or art departments.”